In spite of the Iranian leaders' claim that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, evidence reveals that the Iranian regime has long sought to acquire nuclear weapons. The regime's ballistic missile program to deliver nuclear warheads, a core pillar of its foreign policy, is closely linked to the nuclear program. Pictured: A Shahab-3 ballistic missile on display in Tehran, Iran on September 26, 2019. (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
A recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency pointed out that "Samples taken from two sites during inspections in the fall by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) contained traces of radioactive material".
This case was first brought to the world's attention in 2018 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano to inspect an "atomic warehouse" in Iran. Netanyahu pointed out in his speech to the UN General Assembly that the Iranian government had a "secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran's secret nuclear weapons program." In addition, in 2018, two non-partisan organizations based in Washington, DC -- the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) -- released detailed reports about Iran's undeclared clandestine nuclear facilities, as well. Iran's leaders claimed that the warehouse, in a village, Turquz Abad, in the suburbs of Tehran, was simply a place where carpets were cleaned.
The IAEA at first did not take these reports of a secret Iranian atomic warehouse seriously. This should not be surprising: the IAEA has a long history of misreporting the Iranian regime's compliance with the deal and declining to follow up on credible reports about Iran's illicit nuclear activities. Generally, other state or non-state actors -- not the IAEA or the UN -- have been the first to reveal Iran's clandestine nuclear sites. Iran's secret nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak, for instance, were first disclosed by an opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran in 2001.
After a significant amount of pressure was imposed on the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, inspecting the suspected site that the Israeli Prime Minister referred to was implemented two years later, in the fall 2020. Even then, although Iran's leaders certainly had enough time to clean up the facility, the IAEA's inspectors nevertheless reported that traces of radioactive uranium had been detected by examining remaining samples.
It should also not come as surprise that the ruling mullahs of Iran are declining to answer the IAEA's questions.
It is also important to point out that one of the most basic requirements of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a party, as well as one of the terms of the 2015 "nuclear deal," was that the Iranian regime is required to reveal its nuclear activities to the IAEA -- a condition with which it also failed to comply.
The detection of radioactive particles in Turquz Abad points to the high probability that Tehran has been undertaking work on nuclear weapons in secret. It also points to the high probability that Iran's ruling mullahs were most likely violating the nuclear deal since it was reached in 2015.
Despite this critical revelation, however, the Biden administration -- with the seeming prescient objections of Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines -- still seems to be pushing for the return of the US to the nuclear deal.
Iran's nuclear deal has dangerous fundamental flaws, specifically the ability to enrich uranium in the first place -- as the preeminent US nuclear negotiator Ambassador John R. Bolton wrote a few years ago, without it, no bomb -- and the deal's notorious sunset clauses that remove restrictions on Iran's nuclear program after the deal soon expires. The deal, rather than preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, in fact paves the way for Tehran to become a legitimized nuclear state. The deal, furthermore, exempted Iran's military sites, such as Parchin which is reportedly where nuclear development and research is conducted, from the reach of the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspectors. The deal, which the Iranian regime understandably loves, also fails to refer to the ability of Iran's ballistic missile program to deliver nuclear warheads, a core pillar of its foreign policy and closely linked to the nuclear program. The nuclear deal also gives Iran's regime a global legitimacy that makes it even more difficult to hold its leaders accountable for any malign behavior, predatory aggression or terror activity.
The nuclear deal also allows the flow of billions of dollars into the treasury of Iran's leaders, thereby providing the revenues for their militia, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that they needed to escalate their military adventurism in the region. This includes financing, arming and supporting their terror and militia groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and the Gaza Strip, as well as South America. Finally, the nuclear deal increases Iran's meddling, interventions in the region and its funding of militia groups.
The Biden administration would do well for both American and international security to take the recent revelations about Iran's clandestine work on nuclear weapons more seriously -- especially to halt the regime from obtaining nuclear weapons before it is too late.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu